Accidentally, on Purpose: The Making of a Personal Injury Underworld in America

Accidentally, on Purpose: The Making of a Personal Injury Underworld in America

by Ken Dornstein
     
 

Accidentally on Purpose is the first book to document the making of America's most peculiar criminal underworld. Not centered on the traditional activities of organized crime, this improbable underworld has been built from the raw material of faked personal injuries.
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Overview

Accidentally on Purpose is the first book to document the making of America's most peculiar criminal underworld. Not centered on the traditional activities of organized crime, this improbable underworld has been built from the raw material of faked personal injuries.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At half the length this would have been twice as interesting, for Dornstein gets buried under the avalanche of material he amassed and seems to have lacked editorial help in digging out. A first-time author, he's a writer of talent who knows how to build tension, but the reader's initial wonder at the ingenuity of the insurance scams presented ultimately gives way to tedium at their sameness, even at the self-mutilations that seem the common coin of insurance fraud. Dornstein, who became a private investigator of suspected staged accidents after graduating from Brown in 1991, presents a scholarly history of the subject, going back a century to detail the operations of ship scuttlers and arsonists, Workmen's Comp swindlers and the like, and then focuses on today's freeway "swoops-and-squats," i.e., staged crashes. Los Angeles is the capital of America's personal injury "underworld," according to the author, with an estimated 10,000 fraudulent claims filed annually. Not an underworld in the sense of being controlled by organized crime, scams are most often initiated by neighborhood hustlers or confederations of doctors and lawyers. The so-called accident victims are cheaply hired to sustain or fake injuries. And although individual claims are paltry, in the aggregate they amount to an estimated $1 billion annually. The lure of easy money, Dornstein concludes after pondering the self-evident, is probably the motivation. (Jan.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This book is a well-researched, fascinating review of the world of faked personal injuries. The author graduated from an Ivy League college in 1991 and then spent a short time working as an investigator of questionable injury cases in Los Angeles. He recounts his experiences and interviews some of the participants in a nationwide epidemic of greed and deception. Dornstein traces the historical origins of false personal injury claims to ship scuttlers in the early 1800s, who would overinsure their vessels and then wreck them to reap the insurance benefits. From ship scuttling to speculation on the lives of strangers to rigged car accidents, the world of faked injuries revolves around insurance claims. The author does suggest solutions but lays the blame on American culture, which encourages accident victims to cash in. For general collections.-Harry Charles, St. Louis, Mo.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312176839
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan
Publication date:
04/01/1998
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.23(d)

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